Medications for Viral Hepatitis

Here are the basics about each of the medicines below. Only the most common reactions are listed. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special steps. Use each of these drugs as advised by your doctor or the booklet they came with. If you have any questions, call your doctor.

Medicine may be used to treat hepatitis B or C. The goal is to limit or stop further liver damage. Hepatitis B treatment may work for a limited time and not lead to a cure. Sometimes, people with hepatitis C will be cured. Some of these may be used alone or with other medicine.

Prescription Medications

Alpha Interferons

Alpha interferon is treats types B and C and is given as a shot. Alcohol must be stopped when using this drug.

Some problems are:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Flu-like symptoms such as:
    • Feeling tired
    • Muscle aches
    • Headache
    • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bone marrow suppression
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis

Telbivudine

This drug is used to treat chronic hepatitis B.

Some problems are:

  • Lactic acidosis—a serious change in blood chemistry
  • Sudden worsening of symptoms after treatment stops
  • Upset stomach
  • Pain or swelling in the belly
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling tired
  • Muscle weakness or pain
  • Neuropathy—impaired nerve function
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Joint pain
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Back pain
  • Sleeping problems
  • Lightheadedness
  • Changes in how the kidneys and liver work

Entecavir

This drug is used to treat chronic hepatitis B.

Some problems are:

  • Lactic acidosis—a serious change in blood chemistry
  • Sudden worsening of symptoms after treatment stops
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach upset
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling tired
  • Headache
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sleeping problems

Lamivudine

This drug is used to treat chronic hepatitis B.

Some problems are:

  • Enlarged liver
  • Lactic acidosis—a serious change in blood chemistry
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stuffy nose

Adefovir

This drug is used to treat chronic hepatitis B.

Some problems are:

  • Liver problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Lactic acidosis—a serious change in blood chemistry
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Ribavirin

This drug is used to treat chronic hepatitis C.

Some problems are:

  • Severe anemia
  • Feeling tired
  • Irritability
  • Skin rash and itching
  • Stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches
  • Gout

Protease Inhibitors

Common names:

  • Telaprevir
  • Boceprevir
  • Simeprevir

These drugs are used to treat hepatitis C. They slow the growth of the disease.

Some problems are:

  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Anemia
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling tired
  • Problems with or loss of taste
  • Anal irritation—telaprevir
  • Sensitivity to light—simeprevir

NS5A Inhibitors

Common names:

  • Ombitasvir
  • Daclatasvir
  • Elbasvir
  • Velpatasvir
  • Ledipasvir

These drugs are used to treat hepatitis C. They slow the growth of the disease.

Some problems are:

  • Skin rash and itching
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Muscle weakness or pain
  • Heart rhythm problems—daclatasvir

NS5B inhibitors

Common names:

  • Sofosburvir
  • Dasabuvir

These drugs are used to treat hepatitis C. They slow the growth of the disease.

Some problems are:

  • Skin rash and itching
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Sleeping problems
  • Muscle weakness or pain
  • Liver damage

NS 3/4A inhibitors

Common names:

  • Paritaprevir
  • Grazoprevir

Special Considerations

If you are taking medicine:

  • Take medicine as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicine can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one medicine. This includes over-the-counter products and supplements.
  • Plan for refills as needed.

References:

Acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated May 14, 2018. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Acute hepatitis C infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated November 15, 2018. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated May 14, 2018. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Chronic hepatitis C infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated January 31, 2019. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Hepatitis C—treatment of genotype 1. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated December 2, 2018. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Hepatitis C—treatment of genotypes 2-6. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated December 2, 2018. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated May 14, 2018. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated February 28, 2018. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Overview of acute viral hepatitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/hepatitis/overview-of-acute-viral-hepatitis. Updated January 2019. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Overview of chronic hepatitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hepatic-and-biliary-disorders/hepatitis/overview-of-chronic-hepatitis. Updated January 2019. Accessed April 18, 2019.
Last reviewed February 2019 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 4/18/2019

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